Wednesday, April 02, 2008

XBox 360 Vs Playstation 3

Well folks, there is a reason this blog has suffered from a limited amount of post in recent months. The culprits: HALO3, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect. (soon to be joined by Grand Theft Auto IV, I'm sure.)

And there is just one console on which I play them: the XBox 360.

Now, hold on, Playstation lovers and PC Gamers. I am avid gamer. Here is a little background on me before you go judging:
- I didn't own a single next-gen console prior to July 2007. I'd owned nearly everything that had come out previously, gotten burned numerous times by Sega (Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast...grrr), even 3DO and absolutely LOVED my original Playstation (Final Fantasy VII, Worms, et al). Got a Playstation 2, but to be honest, it mostly just collected dust. Why? the PC had entered the scene as my rig of choice. And a high-powered ALIENWARE gaming rig blows away any console. Hands down.

- Said Windows-based Gaming Monster PC took a shit on me about a year ago after a certain someone filled up my hard drive with crap, and hasn't been the same ever since. So over the Summer of 2007, a friend shows me XBox Live Arcade, and I could see that the strategy game CATAN was available for download and online or offline play. I was hooked. I hit the local Base exchange, and lo' and behold, they had a military appreciation package. Got the 360, wired controller, 3 games, and 1-yr subscription to XBox Live Gold for about $450.

- By the end of the year, my wife and I would go on to hunt and track down a Wii (thanks to the parents back in Delaware) and also get a Playstation 3.

- So this review comes from someone who owns all the next-gen systems.

- Moreover, this review also comes at a time when the dreaded "red ring of death" problem appears to have been addressed to a significant extent. I understand the frustrations many would have if their 360 crapped out for no reason other than poor-quality control on the internal thermal paste, but I don't know too many people who've had that probably with new 360s.

So enough intro, let's get to it:

Why do I prefer the XBox 360 to the Playstation 3? Four B-I-G reasons:

1. The 360 is the place to be for Online Gaming.
- I've got 50+ friends on XBox Live...on the Playstation? Two, 2, dos, zwei, er.... This will increase when some PS3 exclusive games come out, like Resistance 2 or Killzone 2 (scroll down for more on that), but right now, there is just no real comparison between the online experience between the consoles. The XBox 360 beats the piss out of the PS3. Hands down, don't even try and argue the point.

2. Ease of navigation. The XBox has 5 total "pages" to navigate through. The entry page, gives you a quick glimpse at whether you have messages and how many friends you have online? The information is present is an intuitive, visual way that is impossible to sit here and describe. Suffice it to say that all the info you need (plus some advertisements). What to see which friends are playing, the info is a click away. What to download a new Rock Band song, a game demo, a Live Arcade game? A few clicks and you'll be playing in minutes (provided you have enough MS points...) - As for the Playstation? Everything is present along a linear horizontal line and choices pop-up in a vertical fashion when you scroll over them....In other words: NOT AS EASY. and ease and intuitiveness are key here folks. Want to see if any friends on PS3? Scroll all the way to the right....and up and down...there's no instant look. Hopefully that changes when Playstation rolls out their HOME.

3. Gamerscore and Achievements - a.k.a. Gamer-crack. It may have seemed like a throw away thing in the beginning...give the players "points" for doing certain things in games. I think there was even some discussion about folks who racked up high gamerscore being able to "cash" them in for free stuff from Microsoft (guess that isn't going to happen anytime soon). But I tell you what. Part of each game now is looking at what the designers set as Achievements. A lot of games are fairly standard, finish the game on different difficulties, get so many kills, fly this far, run this far...but others can drive you to do some odd things in games. Like running around with a shotgun in Rainbow Six Vegas 2 until you've gotten the "I like the sound it makes" achievement for shotgun kills, or running down zombies with your jalopy in Half Life 2 Episode 2 or starting a third play-through on a game like Mass Effect in an epic quest to the Extreme Gamer achievement for having a 60th level character (the Max level you can get in the game I just found out.) Of course, it has already been mocked to perfection by the Simpsons game, which unlocked a 5gp achievement just for pressing start at the beginning of the game. The inclusion of this simply, addictive add-on to games is hard to ignore. Perfect example: I have both a PS3 and a 360. Given a choice between getting the "next big thing" like Grand Theft Auto IV on PS3 or 360, and I will choose the XBox 360 version. EVERY TIME. Why? Not because of downloadable content or any difference in graphics performance. But because of Gamerscore and the thrill of pursuing those dastardly achievements!

4. Lack of Must-Have Content on the PS3! What killer game is on the PS3 that isn't also on the XBox, thus wrecking my choice and forcing me to get the game for PS3 and not for 360 so I can wrack up gamer point and achievements? The quick answer: NONE. Okay, okay, I've got Resistance (picked up a used copy) but I haven't played it yet....Its not about the 360 having better games or more exclusive ones, its that there isn't any game out there that MADE me get a PS3....The wife bought our PS3 from a friend who sold it because of this very reason, he was bored with it, used his XBox way more and wanted to recoup some of the money he plunged into the system. We bought it primarily as a Blu-ray player, and hopefully, there will be some cool games out for it soon.

Is it all doom and gloom for the PS3? HELL NO! First off, I think its the best Blu-Ray bargain there is, and Sony's Online is free, even if it is crappy right now. As Sony gets its online bandwagon rolling, it may actually force the XBox to rethink its $50/year charge for XBox Live Gold. Moreover, some exclusive games are on the way that will probably be prompting quite a few friends to get a PS3: Resistance 2, Killzone 2, and the new Metal Gear game, to say nothing of new Final Fantasy chapter. I think an 8-player co-op campaign for Resistance 2 will be killer, I just hope I have 8 friends who own PS3 to play with! As it stands right now, I may be a little hard pressed to find companions to help me right the Earth of alien invaders this fall.

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